The Tall Girls: A Play About Playing Basketball

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By Meg Miroshnik.

Directed by Louis Contey.

Produced by Shattered Globe Theatre.

At Theater Wit, Chicago.

Interesting fable about women’s basketball in the 1930 in the Mid-West.

This well-stage fable explores class, gender, and the history of women in sports, and asks just who can afford the luxury of playing basketball? The Tall Girls is a most entertaining stage play about the early days of women playing sports. I must confess that I was a high school and college basketball referee for over twenty years in Chicago and South Florida and I worked hundreds of women’s college games yet I was not familiar with the early days and rules of women’s basketball in the 1930’s. Director Louis Contey has his cast delivering fine renditions of the skill level of those pioneering players.

The Tall Girls is set in an unnamed Dust Bowl state in a town named Poor Prairie in the Hoover Era 1930’s. Utilizing a wood-laced set (designed by Amanda Rozmiarek), we meet a tall girl – Jean (Angie Shriner) as she arrives in Poor Prairie as she arrives  to take care of a 14 year old cousin – tomboy and basketball fanatic Almeda (Tracey Green). At the train station she meets a man holding a cloth bag that holds a new basketball. Haunt Johnny (Joseph Wiens) returns to Poor Prairie after a mysterious past. He also is a women’s basketball coach.

As Jean tries to tame the wild Almeda, she meets the other girls who think playing basketball could help them escape from their dreary town to a better life since the barnstorming women’s basketball teams like Babe Didrikson’s are doing well. Jean meerts Almeda’s pal Inez (Tina Muñoz Pandya) and the’ glamours’ Lurlene (Christina Gorman) who never saw a boy she didn’t desire.  The fifth girl is Puppy (Abbey Smith) who’s mother is against girls playing sports.

Once high school starts, the realize that Haunt Johnny is their math teacher who also coach’s basketball. Jean, who has never played before, sees that basketball could lead to opportunities for her future. The Tall Girls is a fable about passionate girls using basketball as a means of escape but they face the dilemma of the looming question”Who can afford the luxury of play?  The town and the state are against girls playing sports and thus crushing their dreams.

This show is both dramatic and compelling as the cast have amazing basketball skills as well as fine acting talent. I was impressed by the performance by Angie Shriner and Joseph Wiens. This is a winning play that is more than “A Play About Playing Basketball!” The six players here score a hit.

Highly Recommended.

Tom Williams.

Date Reviewed: January 15, 2017.

For more info checkout The Tall Girls: A Play About Playing Basketball page at theatreinchicago.com.

At Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont, Chicago, IL,  call 773-975-8150, www.theaterwit.org, tickets $35, Thursday thru Saturday at 8 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 1 hour, 50 minutes with intermission, through February 25, 2107.

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